We think that these words ought to be inserted. The Minister has laid great stress on the fact that this is not a military but a civil force, and we believe that a man should carry into such a force all the rights that he would have as a civilian citizen. One of the important rights which the working-class civilian citizen has is his right to join a trade union. I have been told that a man will not be prevented from remaining a member of his trade union, but that is not the purpose of the Amendment. A man who is called into the Civil Defence force may be a member of the woodworkers' union, the railwaymen's union, the miners-union or the carters' union, or even of the transport workers' union, but membership of those unions would be of little use to him in so far as conditions in any branch of the Civil Defence force are concerned. We want it to be possible for the men who are engaged in these services, and who have already, before the introduction of this Bill, had occasions on which it was necessary to act collectively about conditions, to belong to an appropriate organisation. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security will call to mind many representations that have been made to him on behalf of men in these various A.R.P. and other services for improvements in their conditions, and for consideration not only in the matter of wages, but in regard to uniforms, hours of labour, and so on. It is highly desirable that there should be the most complete opportunity for any men called away from their ordinary avocations to belong to a trade union interested in the conditions, not of the work they have left, but of the work on which they are now engaged. I gather that there is already such an organisation for the auxiliary firemen. I imagine that the Minister himself will appreciate the value of such an organisation for men in the general Civil Defence Services, to speak in a representative way on behalf of the men, to come to agreements on their behalf, and, in general, to perform the functions carried out by a trade union in ordinary industries.
I hope that the assurance I shall give the hon. Member will be satisfactory. As he knows, people who join the Civil Defence services and are members of trade unions may retain their membership. He did not seem to be aware that equally there was no objection to their joining a trade union after joining the Civil Defence services. In fact, many have done so, as was stated by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the House on 26th March. He made it quite clear that a person called upon for Civil Defence could retain membership of his trade union, or could become a member of a trade union; and there are unions of which such men are members. The Police are on a different footing. In addition, the basic conditions of service are fixed by the Minister after discussion with a consultative committee of trade union representatives, set up by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council when he was Minister of Home Security. Those arrangements, I think I may fairly claim, are working admirably. In view of the existing practice, with which there is no intention to interfere, and of the assurance I have given, my hon. Friend will probably be able to" see his way to withdraw the Amendment.
We want to be quite clear about this. We do not want to prolong the discussion when what we seek has been already obtained. But the point of the Amendment is not the point that was made by the Parliamentary Secretary. His point seemed to be that if a man were a member of a trade union before being called up for Civil Defence, he could retain his membership of that trade union, or he could be associated with those trade union representatives whom the Lord President of the Council had brought in to discuss the conditions applicable to his particular branch. The point we want to establish, very definitely, is that a group of, say, 1,000 men who are called up for Civil Defence can decide, on the job, to have a trade union among themselves, for deciding, or, at least, urging, that their conditions shall be improved, if necessary, and for protecting their working arrangements.
We are assured that "this is a Civil Defence force. The Minister made great play with the fact that these men were not being included in the military register, and, therefore, we assume that they are entitled to all the rights of civilian workers. It is no use attempting to throw dust in our eyes and to give the impression to the Committee that these men are completely covered, if such is not the case. If we cannot get an assurance that the men can decide to join a trade union of their own, and can negotiate through their own representative and not an outside body created for the purpose of taking the power from their hands, if that is the aim, then this is only an attempt to emulate the German labour front, which gives to an official the right to negotiate on behalf of the men without the consent of the men. We want a very definite assurance, and if we get it we are prepared to withdraw the Amendment, that the men as a body can form their own trade union to decide their own conditions. That is what we ask.
I think that the hon. Gentleman is looking suspiciously where there is no need to do so at all. These rights are well known, and a firemen's trade union has been formed. They can form their own association just as anybody else, and I cannot see any objection to their doing so. But I should make quite plain that the assurance was not merely that the people were members of trade unions before being called up, but that, if they chose to join a trade union after joining up, they could do so, and I do not think that there is any reason for the hon. Gentleman to look with suspicion at that assurance.
If the hon. Gentleman wants me to give an assurance that people shall almost be encouraged to form a trade union, I cannot give that assurance, but I can say that there has never been an obstacle put in the way by the Ministry of Home Security of the formation of an association by members of the Civil Defence services, and I see no reason why there should be.
That is not definite. We are not getting it clear. We are not asking that they should be encouraged to form a trade union, although with a Labour Minister and trades union leader we might even expect that, but we are asking that the men as a body, if they so desired, should be able to form a trades union; they should have complete liberty to do so.
I referred to that in my original speech, but the hon. Member is not being helpful, because this is a compulsory Measure, a Measure making this sort of work compulsory. We refer in our Amendment to the principal Act,.where rules are imposed making this a disciplined service. We know that for years it was a very hard struggle for all of us who were in the Labour party from 1922 onwards on behalf of the police, when the police were denied specifically the right to have a trade union. One Member got into this House under Labour party auspices—and he served the House for a number of years—on that issue, representing the policemen's union. That right was taken away, and we know, as does the hon. Member, that for the regular police trade unionism in the ordinary sense of the term is not permitted
I know that that works reasonably well, but it was not what the men wanted. They only got it because they had a fighting union. I recognise that there has always been in the minds of Governmental authorities the idea that "trade unionism is not a thing for you." I believe that trade unionism is a good thing for men working together on the same kind of job and in the same conditions. Collective bargaining has a place in the affairs of the nation. When the Parliamentary Secretary says that all essentials are not being denied, what is the objection to making it explicit in the Bill? I am not saying that the men must or must not form a trade union. I say that it should be legal for them to form trade unions and that they should not lose their rights as citizens because they are entering some branch of Civil Defence.
Perhaps I can clear up the point. Before I became a Minister I established with the Home Office a Consultative Committee which embraces all the unions catering for men in Civil Defence. The reason was this: Many people transferred from other unions to Civil Defence, but they retained their tickets in their own union, and this body arranged to represent them by acting for everybody. Men in Civil Defence, under this Bill, will be able to retain their membership or join a trade union.
The Parliamentary Secretary referred to auxiliary firemen, whose case, I think, needs some consideration. I know that there is an association or a trade union which acts for firemen, but the conditions of service and pay of auxiliary firemen are quite different. Their interests need different representation. I believe that at the moment they have at least one association which wishes to put its views to the Minister, but that it is not recognised and is told that it must put them through the body which represents regular firemen. It was, perhaps, reasonable to insist upon that when auxiliary firemen did not form a very large body, but at the moment auxiliary firemen are four or five times as numerous as regular firemen. They believe that they are penalised in many ways, are not being given the same facilities for promotion, and that they have a great many grievances. I think the Amendment raises a point which can easily occur in the future. To some extent it has already occurred as regards the Auxiliary Fire Service, and the Committee ought to receive some assurance on the matter. I am not convinced, myself, that in time of war the position would be best met by creating what one might call auxiliary trade unions. Possibly it would be better met if there were an undertaking from the Minister that in all these Services a responsible official high up at headquarters would be appointed to watch the interests of the Auxiliary Civil Defence servants in much the same way as was done in the Territorial Forces in conjunction with the Army. At present the situation does not seem to be satisfactory, and, although I am not able to say whether the exact wording of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend would meet the case, I am glad it has given me an opportunity of making these remarks.
I raised this point on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I think that if the Government's promise could be implemented, it would meet the case, as I see it. Let it be remembered that there has been a case in the courts on this very issue of the right of an auxiliary fireman to become a member of his own union.
The reason I raise this matter is that whatever Parliament does, unless it lays down some specific regulation, there are influences in local authorities which are against trade unions as such. The point I want to make is that it is never sufficient to say that a man's interest in an occupation can be safeguarded by the union to which he belonged before taking up that occupation. Let us get this matter clear. Take the case of my own trade union. It is said that if men are conscripted for Civil Defence purposes, my union is to negotiate the conditions in that new employment. Frankly, if a member of my union becomes a coal miner, my union has finished with him, and the Miners' Federation looks after him. When I left the coal mines, the Miners' Federation finished with me. The point which concerns me is this. This service is a conscriptive and not a voluntary service. If the Minister says now, as I understand him to say, that these conscripted people, either alone or with the volunteers who work alongside them, can form a trade union, jointly or separately, then the case made by the two hon. Members has been won. I trust that is so.
I should like to get an understanding on this question. Suppose that 1,000 men are called up into the Civil Defence services, and that of those 1,000 men, 100 belong to trade unions. They will be represented through their organisations before the Consultative Committee. However, it is possible that the 900 who are not in any organisation may decide to form a special Civil Defence organisation to look after themselves. Will they be allowed representation on the body that meets the Consultative Committee? I have a recollection of a meeting of Civil Defence workers being called in order to discuss hours of work and conditions. The chief constable sent round word informing the wardens that they must not attend this meeting. Then the organisers, either of the Transport Workers' Union or the other union concerned, called a meeting. Of course, they attended, and several of them joined that particular union. The fact remains that when it was a question of an effort being made by the men themselves to get a meeting in order to discuss some form of organisation which would directly deal with working hours, general conditions, and wages in that particular area they were prohibited from doing so. If a large body of men are called up, they are immediately brought into common association in their work, and as a result they have common problems. There is a tendency for them to draw together. I should like to know, if these men are called up, and they decide to form an organisation of their own, whether that organisation will be allowed representation before the Consultative Committee, where they can bring forward any grievances there may be, or take steps to better their conditions.
I was a teacher, and I can remember in the early days when instructors from the trade with which the hon. Member is associated came to work in my profession. They could not look after themselves, and I had to do it for them.
I can assure the hon. Member that we are perfectly competent to look after our men, and that we are in fact doing it. We are looking after the interests of the hundreds of workers who are teaching woodcraft in London and elsewhere. I could give the names of dozens, and it is simply nonsense to say that we cannot look after them. The case of demolition squads was mentioned. What is a demolition squad? It is a squad comprising men who are in the building trade. These men are practised in the building trade, and among them are to be found carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, plumbers and so forth. Just because a man happens to be engaged in pulling down a house, which has been partially destroyed by enemy action, it is nonsense to say that the trade union to which he belongs is not allowed to look after his interests. If a man joined another organisation he would then have to leave our union. That is definitely laid down in our rules. This Amendment, if it was carried out in the same spirit as the speeches which have been made, would definitely do harm to the trade union movement. It would create a number of organisations and would bring us back to the conditions we have been trying to destroy. The result would be that we should have a greater number of units.
Every little interest which desires to have representatives of its own particular branch of what is called Civil Defence would be setting them up. That is not the spirit of trade unionism. It is opposed to the spirit of trade unionism. We who are in industry are qualified to look after our own interests, and we have been doing it ever since Civil Defence was started. All our trade unions have been agreed in establishing that principle, which has been agreed to and established in the interest of all trade unions. I ask hon. Members not to interfere with us. We are perfectly competent to look after our own interests.
Take the case that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has visualised of 1,000 workers in Civil Defence, 100 of whom are in different trade unions—miners, joiners, plumbers or clerks—and the 900 are not. What is he going to do about the 900? Are they to be allowed to form an independent trade union? What is to happen to them?
Let them join their appropriate trade union. Has not the hon. Member heard of the General Workers' Union, and does he not know anything of its personnel? It is composed of all kinds of general workers. I believe teachers could join if they so desired, but I should not advise them to do so, as they have organisations representing them. Let us mind our own affairs. We are much obliged to you for your interest, but we are quite competent to look after them.
The hon. Member may be doing all that he says. I know his record as a trade unionist, and I have never challenged it. But what he is doing now is, after half a century of trade unionism, to oppose an Amendment which says that the rights of trade unionism shall be preserved to these men. My hon. Friends and I are not saying that they must join the wood-workers or the fire brigade union. The men themselves will decide. I should regard it as an impertinence to give lessons in trade unionism to the hon. Member or to the right hon. Gentleman, but I say to the right hon. Gentleman that he is not being a trade union leader when he refuses this Amendment. He is being a Minister of the Crown, and he is following a precedent set for him by the Conservative Ministers who have occupied a similar position. From the Labour point of view there can be no possible objection to stating explicitly that a man's right to be a trade unionist shall be observed. If the Minister refuses to do that, he has some reason for refusing, and it can only be that he does not want these men to express an organised opinion.
The Committee proceeded to a Division, and The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN stated that he thought the Noes had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was unnecessarily claimed, and, accordingly, he called upon the Members who supported and who challenged his decision, successively to rise in their places, and he declared that the Noes had it, two members only who had challenged his decision having stood up.
I gather that the purpose of this Amendment is to require that the approval of the House of Commons shall be given to any conditions of service— pay, allowances, clothing and so on— that may be established for Civil Defence Services, and also to require the approval of the House for any variation in those conditions. I think the Committee will see that any such procedure would be delaying procedure. Hitherto, as the result of the work of the consultative committee, it has been found possible to establish conditions in the Civil Defence Services which are satisfactory to them, and from time to time variations have been made. We want such variations to be made as rapidly as may be, and we think there is no need to introduce the condition that specific approval by the House of Commons is necessary.
I cannot follow the argument of the hon. Member. He says that the Committee have decided not to give these men the statutory right to form a trade union. The reason is that they do not need that statutory right. Already they have the Common Law right, and that is not affected by this Bill. If that is so, then the argument that they have not got trade union rights is nonsense.
The hon. Members always describes anybody who takes a view contrary to his own as talking nonsense, so I am not disturbed. [Interruption.] I may be the unfortunate exception, but in the majority of cases when the hon. Member has followed me in Debate he has pointed out that I have been either talking nonsense or I am dishonest. But I am not unduly disturbed, and time will show whether this Common Law right is recognised in actual practice in Civil Defence affairs. We can differ about that. The point I am now standing for is the right of representation on the Floor of this House. The Parliamentary Secretary says it would be delaying procedure. He knows perfectly well that is not true. If the Minister lays on the Table a statement that the conditions of the men in the Civil Defence services are to be improved in this or that respect he knows that the House will not interfere; but I want to be sure of the contrary position. If the Minister is proposing to make the conditions of the men worse, then I want to make certain that he shall have to come before this House of Commons to get the approval of the House before he changes the conditions. I say that as the House has had something to do with setting up the conditions for these people it ought to have something to do with any alteration of them or with any question of maintaining them. It is a small thing for the Committee to insist that the House of Commons shall retain some say over the working conditions of these men.
The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has said things for which I think he may be sorry some day. If I ought not to have said that he was talking nonsense I withdraw that expression, but if he will tell me what is the sense in his argument I shall be very pleased. I thought the whole motive force of the Labour movement in this country had been this—getting men to join their trade unions and, by collective bargaining, establish conditions of work, and I thought the hon. Member stood for that with all the rest of us here, whatever may be our differences on other matters. Now he says "No". He does not want to stand by collective bargaining. He wants it to be done by the House of Commons. It is a principle that none of the trade unions will accept. If the hon. Member's previous Amendment had been carried for a union to be formed, would the hon. Member have persisted with this Amendment?
It would mean that the union contemplated by him under the Amendment would not have conformed to the general principles of the Labour movement. He would wish to come here to have the conditions of labour fought out on the Floor of the House. If the hon. Member says that he moves the Amendment only because the Committee has denied a statutory right to a trade union, I reply that he is going the wrong way about it. He assumes that because people have no statutory right to a trade union, they have no trade union, but that is not so. Under the Common Law they
I am not surprised at the statement that the hon. Gentleman has made. He has often complained that certain people who have disagreed with him in this House are confused, but his confusion now is greater than anything I have seen in this House. He always appears to be the only person here who can see things clearly. He says that a man has a statutory right to belong to a trade union; we have never denied it. What has been denied in the rejection of the previous Amendment is the right of men to form a trade union on the job, in order to govern the conditions in which they work. The men having been denied that right and secured only the right of individuals to belong to their various trade unions, we have asked that, before the conditions laid down for the men on the job are completely applied, the House of Commons should be aware of them and should be able to criticise them and condemn them, as has been demanded on many occasions in regard to the conditions of the unemployed and others.
We are asking only that the House of Commons should still retain a measure of control over those conditions of labour, but, if that seems outrageous to certain Members, then I am afraid that I do not understand the principles of the Labour movement. Having failed to get the protection we desired for the workers on the job, so that persons who are concerned with the conditions of the workers might have some say with the workers in determining those conditions, we are asking that the House of Commons should be made aware of the position. In our opinion, the Minister is given too great a power to decide conditions without the persons concerned collectively bargaining on the matter and without the House of Commons being able to decide what is right or wrong. We ask that Members of Parliament should be given an opportunity of making that decision.
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Price, M. P.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Radford, E. A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Hannah, I. C.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Assheton, R||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Barr. J.||Holdsworth, H.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Richards, R.|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Hughes, Moelwyn||Rickards, G W.|
|Benson, G||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar).|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Silkin, L.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Lathan, G.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Brooke, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.|
|Browne, Captain A. C. (Belfast W.)||Leach, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Lipson, D. L.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Little, Dr. J. (Down)||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cape, T.||Loftus, P. C.||Southby, Comd. Sir A. R. J.|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Mabane, W.||Stuart, Rt. Hn. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Summers, G. S.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||McEntee, V. La T.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Daggar, G.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||McKie, J. H.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||McKinlay, A. S.||Train, Sir J.|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Mander, G. le M.||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Dunn, E.||Mathers, G.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Edmondson, major Sir J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Milner, Major J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Elliston, Captain G. S.||Mort, D. L.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Munro, P.||Windsor, W.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Parker, J.||Woolley, W. E.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Peake, O.||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Gibson, R. (Greenook)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Wragg, H.|
|Gledhill, G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Power, Sir J. C.||Mr. Boulton and Mr. Adamson.|
I beg to move, in page 4, line 18, after "Treasury," to insert:
and after consultation with such associations of local authorities as appear to him to be concerned.
Perhaps it will save the time of the Committee if I am allowed to deal with this Amendment in conjunction with the following Amendment which stands in my name, since both of them raise the same considerations. We want consultation by the Department concerned with the associations which represent the local authorities, that is to say, the County Councils Association and the Municipal Association. I would like to make it quite clear that as associations we do not wish in any way to deprive the Department of any of the authority which this House gives it, but to strengthen and help it if we can in the making of these Orders and in the taking of action under the two paragraphs of the Clause, namely, (i) and (j). We believe that consultation would be a great advantage in strengthening and giving assistance to the Department, and also in obtaining smooth working of the Orders
when they are made. We contend that it would be very much better to have provision for such consultation in the Bill, and that such consultation should take place before action is taken instead of after, which would cause the associations to have to make representations only when something was not satisfactory.
The first Amendment deals with the pay of those who are called up. The associations believe that there is some liability upon them to make payment, and we think that the conditions of service should be laid down after consultation with the two representative associations to see if they are in agreement as to what would be likely to be satisfactory. The second Amendment deals with the movement of individuals from one service to another after the first allocation has been made. Of course, the first allocation will be made by the Department; we do not want to interfere with that. But if men are to be moved subsequently from one authority to another, we believe that the authority from whose service the men are being moved should have an opportunity of stating their needs, and, possibly, of objecting, before the men are taken away. We believe that they should have the right of consultation with the Department before action is taken, not after, in order to ensure smooth working and satisfactory conditions. That right has been given in other Bills.
With your permission, Sir Dennis, I will deal with these two Amendments together, as my hon. Friend the Mover suggested. These Amendments, if accepted, would, I suggest, have a delaying effect at times when delay might be very serious. With regard to the second Amendment, not only would the effect be delaying, but it would not achieve what I gather the hon. Member intended. His concern is with the possibility of people being transferred from the service of one local authority to that of another, whereas the Amendment really relates to a transfer from one service, such as the rescue service, to another, for example, the first-aid parties. That is what the words of the Amendment would bring about. It is clear that, whereas there might be time for consultation in connection with the War Damage Act, the circumstances in which transfers might need to be made from one local authority to another in conditions of severe air-raiding would make speed necessary. If consultation had always to take place and the proceedings were held up, it would be undesirable. Nevertheless, I am prepared to give the assurance that, except when the need for speedy action prevents it, there will be consultation with the local authority concerned before any members of their services are moved to the services of another local authority. With regard to the first Amendment, consultation might be a delaying factor, but I can reassure my hon. Friend by telling him that the pay and allowances of those who may be called up under the Bill will be reimbursed in full to the local authority. I think that that financial point possibly caused him concern; and, after that assurance, he may be less interested in securing this automatic consultation. I hope that, with those assurances, he will withdraw the Amendment.
The Association of Municipal Corporations desire to support the Amendment, but if
the Parliamentary Secretary gives an undertaking that the local authority shall.be consulted in both these instances and that there is no question that full reimbursement will be made, my hon. Friend might withdraw the Amendment. The matters referred to in the Clause, namely, paragraph (i), are:
conditions of service as regards pay, allowances, clothing, expenses and other matters.
None of these is a matter in which delay is a very serious consequence. The hon. Gentleman's argument in that regard is not really very effective. He seemed to imply that it might be necessary because of "Blitzes" or something of that sort to give an immediate decision to pay allowances or expenses, but clearly the matter of delay would not be serious. In all these cases there could properly and usefully be consultation with local authorities, and if he could put that into the Bill, naturally the local authorities would prefer it, and I should have thought that it was possible. If it is not, perhaps he will give an undertaking that consultation will take place wherever possible. Delay in the urgency of dealing with the matter should be the only instance where consultation should not take place. In the event of such an assurance maybe my hon. Friend would withdraw his Amendment.
I do not see why delay should come into it at all. I should be loath to do anything which might cause delay, because urgency is most necessary in regard to settlement, but in view of the assurance that has been given by the hon. Member, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 4, line 39, at the end, to insert:
(d) he shall, if he be a person serving a local authority in any capacity specified in the first column of the Schedule to the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939, immediately before he is called up for civil defence in pursuance of this Act, be treated for the purposes of the said Act of 1939 on such calling up as if he had ceased so to serve in such capacity as aforesaid in order to undertake service in any of the naval, military, or air forces of the Crown.
I have got so little out of the Committee stage of the Bill that I am emboldened to expect that I may get something out of this Amendment. I can see that there
may be difficulty in accepting the Amendment, but there are two points that I want to put before the Minister, and I hope that he will give them sympathetic consideration, and, if possible, give an undertaking. I am certain that he does not want to do a grave injustice which, I think, is possible unless something in the nature of this Amendment is given. It will be noted that while reference is made to Section 7 of the Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and the Courts (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act, both of which are really the retention of certain provisions, we have no mention of the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939.
It means in effect that it is possible for a member of the staff of a local authority, who instead of being called up for military service is called up for Civil Defence, may not be in a position to have his pay made up. Many local authorities, when members of the staff join the Services, make up their pay. That may not be regarded as of the greatest importance, but what is of importance is that there is the possibility' that they will lose their superannuation rights for the period that they are in Civil Defence, whereas if they were in the Army they would not. I cannot believe that the Minister would want that sort of thing to continue. A member of a local authority paying a contribution into a superannuation fund is entitled to a certain pension at the end of a certain time. If you make a gap in the period, such as you may do unless the Amendment is accepted or an undertaking is given in regard to it, it will mean that at the expiration of the period of service a pensioner will not be entitled to the same pension as he would have been but for the interruption of his service. I would like to have some assurance upon that point from the Minister.
As the hon. Gentleman says, the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939, does enable local authorities to make up the balance of civil pay of employés undertaking "war service" and does preserve their superannuation rights. Any employment in a service established under the Civil Defence Acts of 1937 and 1939 is "war service" for the purposes, of the Act of 1939 and many forms of service under this new Act will constitute "war service" for the purposes of the Act of 1939. Therefore to that extent the Amendment is unnecessary, but even if the Bill as drafted does not cover all cases it appears that on technical and drafting grounds the insertion of this Amendment would not be the best way of achieving the object the hon. Gentleman has in mind. However, I have the authority of the Minister of Health to say that he will issue a circular to all local authorities recognising as "war service" any service under this Bill when it becomes an Act which is not already "war service," apart from such recognition. I hope that with that assurance the hon. Member will be satisfied that he has at last got something.
I beg to move, in page 4, line 39, at the end, to insert:
(d) no eviction order for evicting his wife and family from their home shall be granted while he is in the service of the Crown.
In moving this Amendment, I ask for consideration for men who have very limited incomes. In all past measures which have come before the House we have considered men who have been conscripted and have protected them from eviction. I ask that those who are conscripted for Civil Defence shall be protected from eviction during their period of service.
I am not quite sure whether the hon. Gentleman quite appreciates that if this Amendment were accepted something would happen which would have the effect of putting people under this Bill, when it became an Act, in a far better position than the people who are conscripted for service in the Armed Forces. At the present time the absolute protection suggested in the Amendment is hot given to persons who are conscripted for the Armed Forces, and it seems to us that there is no reason why, with the allowances it is proposed to make to people compulsorily enrolled for Civil Defence, the law should discriminate in their favour and give them a protection not given to soldiers. The Courts (Emergency Powers) Acts, 1939 and 1940, protects tenants from unfair eviction by providing in effect that a landlord cannot enforce eviction without the consent of the court if there is any default in payment of rent. The court, in deciding whether a person liable to pay rent is unable to do so immediately by reason of circumstances attributable to the war may take into account the other liabilities of the tenant. Persons conscripted under this Bill for Civil Defence will have that protection, but I cannot believe that the hon. Member would wish to put them in a more favourable position than members of the Armed Forces.